Comparison of User Traffic Characteristics on Mobile-Access versus Fixed-Access Networks

  • Mikko V. J. Heikkinen
  • Arthur W. Berger
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7192)


We compare Web traffic characteristics of mobile- versus fixed-access end-hosts, where herein the term “mobile” refers to access via cell towers, using for example the 3G/UMTS standard, and the term “fixed” includes Wi-Fi access. It is well-known that connection speeds are in general slower over mobile-access networks, and also that often there is higher packet loss. We were curious whether this leads mobile-access users to have smaller connections. We examined the bytes-per-connection and packet loss based on packet retransmissions from a sampling of logs from servers of Akamai Technologies. We obtained 149 million connections, across 51 countries. The mean bytes-per-connection was typically larger for fixed-access: for two-thirds of the countries, it was at least one-third larger. Regarding distributions, we found that the difference between the bytes-per-connection for mobile- versus fixed-access was statistically significant for each of the countries, and likewise for packet loss. However, the difference is typically small. For some countries, mobile-access had the larger connections. As expected, mobile-access often had higher packet loss than fixed-access, but the reverse pertained for some countries. Typically packet loss increased during the busy period of the day, when mobile-access had a larger increase.


Packet Loss Busy Period Packet Loss Rate Border Gateway Protocol Daily Demand 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mikko V. J. Heikkinen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Arthur W. Berger
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Electrical EngineeringAalto UniversityFinland
  2. 2.Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIITFinland
  3. 3.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUSA
  4. 4.Akamai TechnologiesUSA

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